Funerals can be expensive. Once someone has died, the surviving loved ones can feel pressured to overpay for elaborate services as a way to show respect for the deceased, even if the loved one may have preferred a simpler service. Having to plan a funeral in the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one is also a significant source of stress for a grieving family. One solution to this problem is to prepay and arrange for the service beforehand. Prepaying for a service allows individuals to plan the service they want instead of what their survivors think they would want and also removes the burden of having to pay for and plan services after the death of a loved one.

Prepaying for a funeral, or cremation, also has the added advantage of helping to qualify individuals for government benefits. Money spent on a prepaid funeral does not get counted as an asset when applying for Medicaid or SSI benefits. Spending money on a prepaid funeral, therefore, has the double benefit of relieving your loved ones of a future expense and helping to protect your remaining assets from the need to spend down assets to qualify for government benefits.

One point that must be stressed: in order for a prepaid funeral plan to work, the surviving relatives must know that the plan exists. If the survivors don’t know of the prepaid funeral plan before their loved one dies, then they may end up unnecessarily planning and paying for a funeral anyway. If the plan is merely left with other important papers, then the prepaid plan might not be discovered until it is too late. Once the decision has been made to prepay for a funeral, talk to your loved ones to inform them of the plan and to ask that your wishes be respected.

One point of caution is that it is important to choose a reputable funeral home when prepaying for a service. A less reputable funeral home may sell a supposed prepaid plan that may still leave your loved ones paying significant surprise fees and expenses. If a funeral home goes out of business, the prepaid plan may be completely worthless and the money paid just gone.

Please see a local elder law attorney to see if a quality, prepaid funeral service can help with your planning needs.